In the last two years I have become more interested in a subject that I previously had little interest in and very little time for – leadership! The amount of books written on the subject is amazing; the ministries dedicated to this subject overwhelming; and the self-proclaimed specialists disturbing. Let’s face it, the subject is getting a lot of press these days (e.g. Leadership Journal, Leadership Excellence, and Preaching Magazine). If you haven’t seen some sort of advertisement on improving your leadership skills and abilities, than you are probably sleeping under a rock! As a pastor I’ve become more interested in the subject more or less by default. I basically have no choice! Pastors can’t pastor unless they can lead in some capacity. Therefore, the more that I have developed my philosophy of ministry, the more that I recognize the need to have a rational and cogent understanding of the role of leadership within ministry and ultimately within every area of life.
So, I have a lot of books on the subject. I actually now enjoy reading books on the subject (this is a major transition in my life). Heck, I actually have opinions and observations from the past three years! What’s even more surprising is that various people continue to seek out my advice and insight concerning the ministries and congregations they are involved in! If this is not evidence that we are in the eschaton, I do not know what is. Nevertheless, it happens quite often and seems to be an area of ministry that the Lord is bringing me into. And as one who recognizes that God is using me in the area of leadership, both to lead and to help equip others to lead, I must acknowledge that despite the fact that I have literally hundreds of books on leadership, the number one book on the subject is still the Bible. No other text provides the most Divinely effective guides for both serving in leadership and in order to train leaders.
So what are the axioms of leadership? Perhaps you would like a definition for what an axiom actually is. An axiom is any self-evident truth, rule, or principle that requires absolutely no proof because it is universally accepted. I plan to share my leadership axioms. They are obvious for effective leadership, and they either fall into the category of things you should do or things you shouldn’t do. Actually, perhaps they will be ways to think or ways to avoid thinking. Things to say and things not to say. You get the picture. These axioms encompass how to be an effective leader. I also believe they will essentially “work” in more than just the sphere of ministry. They are equally effective in areas such as parenting, non-profit organizations and any other group that utilizes leadership. The following axiom is foundational to Christianity. Leadership Axiom #1: Love Much!
If Jesus is our example for every area of life than it goes without saying that He loved His disciples and this seems to be one of His primary characteristics in dealing with them. One simply need recall Peter’s silly blunders to recognize Jesus’ continual love. Jesus was always gentle with His disciples, even after the worst kind of failure (i.e. Peter’s denial of Jesus during the crucifixion). Jesus gave Himself for His people (cf. Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 5:2, 25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14). He loved much. In fact, it was the apostle Paul’s prayer that we would actually come to experience the affections of Christ’s love in our hearts! Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19 can hardly be topped. Love is central to effective leadership.
So how do leaders fail in relation to love? The answer is simple. They don’t love whom they lead. Love must be foundational to the leaders actions, feelings, and reasons for doing what they do within the capacity of leadership that they have and for those whom they serve and lead. This is often the result of individuals serving in leadership roles that they simply are not called to serve in.
I highly recommend that you go out of your way to pray that the Lord would give you the ability to love those whom you serve and lead. You will never reach your potential as a leader if you are not motivated by Love. All other motivations are essentially self-serving and ineffective. That is why this is so important for Christians to live out, especially as leaders!
- How is this difficult for you?
- What helps you love those you serve and lead?
- What struggles do you face?
- Why should you love those whom you serve and lead?
I look forward to your thoughts!
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
I am excited about this subject! I have been teaching practical theology and spiritual formation for nearly my entire life and what you share here is absolutely crucial for pastors to understand.
Love is the continuous relationship found within the Trinity and extending into the hearts and minds of God’s people. Without it, we are nothing, as Paul so eloquently states in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is no longer difficult for me to express. When I was younger I had quite the temper but the Lord has helped me to overcome my youthful arrogance. The Holy Spirit and daily devotion has helped me lead through the eyes of love. I suppose that I still face the struggle of not loving my enemies but I am blessed to live a life that no longer recognizes them. I should love simply because God loved me enough to save me. I hope these answers reflect my gratitude for what God has done for me.
To Him be the glory forevermore!
I believe we all need reminders about the first and second commandment – loving God and loving others. I need more motivation in this area. i think you’re right Luke, love has to be our motivation or we’ll never reach our potential. Excellent statement!